Copious amounts of Rooibos tea – that’s how you cope with different time zones, managing teams in Australia, Vietnam, Lagos, Johannesburg, London and San Francisco. At least, that’s how Melvyn Lubega, Allan Gray Fellow and co-founder of Go1 does it. “It’s a taste of home,” says Melvyn and one that he introduced his four Australian business partners to while in San Francisco.
The Go1 team was invited to Silicon Valley by Y Combinator – one of the world’s top incubation programmes and investor in Dropbox and Airbnb. Go1’s motivation for applying to Y Combinator was not start-up capital – at that stage they had already generated over $1m in revenue. Their product (then called Aduro) was also acknowledged by eLearning as the best new-learning management system in 2014 out of 625 systems globally.
Instead they wanted to extend their client base to the US, using the renowned networking opportunities afforded by Y Combinator. Go1 now has sales and support teams in various locations across the globe, which is why Melvyn needs all the Rooibos tea he can get!
Go1 is an e-learning platform that gives clients access to self-developed training content in a user-friendly format across any device. Once registered on Go1, clients also have the option of selecting existing training content via the platform’s marketplace and integrating it into their staff members’ training portal. Go1 has customers in over 20 countries, across all industries and sizes, with their smallest client having 15 staff members and the largest having 55 000.
An improved approach to staff training is something Melvyn started considering while he was at The Boston Consulting Group. Working across a number of countries for a host of clients, he was exposed to different types of training and found that most of the companies he consulted for had training that left much to be desired.
Something that Melvyn no doubt inherited as an Allan Gray Fellow is a relentlessness to improve inefficiencies. He recalls being taught to see the world not as it was, but how it could be and then determining how to execute the improvement. It was only once he moved to Oxford to study his Masters in Education, Learning and Technology that these ideas were developed. At Oxford, Melvyn met Australian classmate Andrew Barnes, a former web developer, who had also been considering a transition into the enterprise training space.
Melvyn’s achievements are numerous and range from winning scholarships for his secondary and tertiary education at St John’s College, UCT and Oxford. He has served as the acting Vice President of UCT’s SRC and was the South African delegation’s “Minister of Finance” at the G20 Youth Summit in 2011.
Yet, despite or perhaps because of all his achievements, Melvyn humbly states that these are all “blessings that have accrued to me for a particular reason … [that invariably] involves impact beyond my immediate community.”
Being raised by his mother in a praying family is what anchored Melvyn in faith and informed his sense of family and community. His upbringing is a constant reminder that it is only by investing in home that can you nourish your roots and expect to grow. This may best explain his return to Johannesburg after spending nearly two years abroad.
Melvyn plans to extend Go1 in SA and bring international best practice to the local setting. He is also looking forward to using the network afforded by the Association of Allan Gray Fellows to help build an ecosystem where businesses feed one another. Yet he doesn’t define success by the revenues of the businesses that he is involved in; rather by the jobs he creates. He explains, “I’ve never seen anyone who created 100 000 sustainable jobs and ended up poor.”
Melvyn’s point of view and what he’s achieved to date epitomise the Foundation’s Spirit of Significance Pillar. He lives a life of passion and integrity and recognises that personal satisfaction comes from empowering oneself in order to serve others.
By: Alexa Anthonie